Firefighter Brian Carroll reflects on the 2011 Arlington Street Fire and Cold Storage Fire of 1999.
Firefighter Brian Carroll was trapped in the basement of 49 Arlington St. after the second-floor of the three-decker collapsed underneath him and his partner on Rescue 1. He thought his close friend was OK. Firefighter Carroll lay trapped and didn’t learn until after he was freed that Firefighter Davies had died.
“What happened to my brother, the three-decker collapsed in a way no one could predict,” Robert Davies said. “Certainly I think it serves as a lesson going forward, and even if it saves one life going forward, then at least something good came out of it.”
Firefighter Davies, who was 43 when he died, has a son, Jon D. Davies Jr., in the department now as a firefighter.
From the Worcester Telegram & Gazette; A cruel month for Worcester firefighters HERE
NIOSH REPORT Career Fire Fighter Dies and Another is Injured Following Structure Collapse at a Triple Decker Residential Fire – Massachusetts:HERE
Nothing is ever routine;…… pause to reflect and remember the demands of the job and the inherent risks and the sacrifices made each and every day in this noble profession of the fire service.
Another beloved brother firefighter’s sacrifice, protecting the citizens of his great city.
Chicago Captain Herbert Johnson, 54, suffered second- and third-degree burns during fire suppression operations being conducted in the attic of the residential house at 2315 West 50th Place, according to Chicago FD officials and published media reports. The 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department died Friday night after he and another firefighter were injured in a blaze that spread quickly through the 2-1/2 story wood frame house. The second firefighter injured was reported in good condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a department spokeswoman.
Captain Johnson, was promoted from lieutenant this summer and was assigned to Engine Co. 123 in Back of the Yards Section of Chicago for the night tour but normally worked all around the city.
Companies were called to the 2-1/2-story wood frame house at 17:15 hours on Friday evening. During initial fire suppression operations, a mayday for a trapped firefighter was communicated around 17:30 hours. Immediate RIT and rescue deployments brought the Captain and the other firefighter out of the structure.
Research identifies the residential occupancy building as being built in 1896 (age 116 years) and constructed of a common balloon framing system (type V wood) with a wood gable roofing system. Published photographs suggests that both original wood sheathing and shinges were present with some new outer sheathing materials being added and renovated at some point with some OSB type sheathing installed with rigid insulation boards and an outer vinyl siding system. Records indicate the house was approximately 2000 square feet in size and measured approximately 20 ft. x 60 ft. County documents indicated the roofing system was an asphalt shinge system on a wood plank deck. Post event photopraphs depict the typical framing system components, wall and roof system and collapsed materials.
The firefighters may have been caught in a flashover within the attic compartment according to early reports according to reports from department spokesman Larry Langford. “This fire is under investigation, and our main concern right now is the family,” said Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, Santiago was joined at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Johnson died in the emergency room, by officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Captain Johnson was the first Chicago firefighter killed fighting a fire since two firefighters, FF Edward Stringer and FF Corey Ankum died battling a blaze at an abandoned South Shore laundry in December 2010. (see previous CommandSafety.com coverage HERE and HERE)
Published reports poignantly stated the following;
“On behalf of the people of the City of Chicago, I want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert Johnson, who tragically paid the ultimate sacrifice while battling a blaze early this evening,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement. “As we mourn Captain Johnson, we are all reminded of the dangerous job and selfless work of our brave firefighters. Being a firefighter is not simply a job, but a call to serve the public and greater good. In his 32 years protecting Chicago, Captain Johnson certainly exemplified the best traits in firefighters everywhere.”
Chicago ABC 7 News
Division A Streetside Photo by Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Division A, Street View Typical 2.5 story Wood Frame Residential – Google Street Maps.
“On behalf of the people of the City of Chicago, I want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert Johnson, who tragically paid the ultimate sacrifice while battling a blaze early this evening,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement.
“As we mourn Captain Johnson, we are all reminded of the dangerous job and selfless work of our brave firefighters. Being a firefighter is not simply a job, but a call to serve the public and greater good. ”
“In his 32 years protecting Chicago, Captain Johnson certainly exemplified the best traits in firefighters everywhere.”
Chicago firefighter Herbert Johnson, left, poses with Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, right, after Johnson was promoted to the rank of captain. Johnson died from injuries sustained while fighting a house fire on the South Side. — Chicago Fire Department
Construction Insights for Typical Gabled Roof Attic with enclosed knee wall voids (typical examples)Occupied or Storage Attic Space Enclosure
Common attic spaces in buildings constructed of balloon framing systems may have the presence of knee wall voids or may have open ridge to eave
Knee wall spaces may be open to the compartment or may be enclosed and used for storage resulting in significant concentrated fire load. Inherent travel paths for fire due to non-fire stopped voids at the wall/eave interface results in concentrated fire impingement and degradation that can lead to isolated or catastrophic system failure and assembly collapse.
Age deterioration over many decades will commonly affect the structural integrity of the collar beams to maintain the structural stability of the roofing rafter system in the attic space. Renovations and alterations may also create operational risk hazards for conducting operations within fire induced attic compartments due to the absence of collar beams that further create unstable structural conditions to flame or heat affected roof components and systems.
Typical Enclosed Attic Voids and Kneewalls
Common Rafter Roof Framing Details- Buildingsonfire.com
Common Rafter Roof Framing Details- Buildingsonfire.com
Common Wood Gable Rafter Framing System- Buildingsonfire.com
Typcial Balloon Framing System with Gable Rafter Roof Framing- Buildingsonfire.com
Don’t neglect to be observant of construction features in contemporary construction such as this attic in a modular prefabricated residential house. Photo by CJ Naum
Operations at 30 Dowling Circle 01.19.2011 Box 11-09
Mark Gray Falkenhan had dedicated his life to serving others. He perished in the line of duty on January 19, 2011 while performing search and rescue operations at a multi-alarm apartment fire in Hillendale, Baltimore County (Maryland). He was 43 years old.
On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a fire occurred in an apartment building located in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland. This fire resulted in the line of duty death (LODD) of volunteer firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, who was operating as the acting lieutenant on Squad 303 . Upon their arrival, FF Falkenhan and a second firefighter from Squad 303 deployed to the upper floors of the apartment building to conduct search and rescue operations. Other fire department units were already involved with both firefighting operations and effecting rescues of trapped civilians.
During these operations, FF Falkenhan and his partner became trapped in a third floor apartment by rapidly spreading fire and smoke conditions. The second firefighter was able to self-egress the building by diving headfirst down a ladder on the front (address side) of the building. FF Falkenhan declared a “MAYDAY” and implemented “MAYDAY” procedures, but was unable to escape or be rescued.
FF Falkenhan was located and removed via a balcony on the third floor in the rear of the building. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued en route to the hospital. FF Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
The Baltimore County (MD) Fire Department published the Line of Duty Death Investgation Report of the 30 Dowling Circle Fire recently. The report was written by a Line of Duty Death Investigation Team comprised of departmental members, including representatives of the local firefighters’ union and the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association.
Baltimore County (MD) Fire Department web site HERE
The following is and executive narrative of the final report (PDF) on the apartment fire where Volunteer Firefighter Mark Falkenhan sustained fatal injuries. The entire report can be downloaded HERE .
The Baltimore Sun newspaper published an editorial about the death of Firefighter Falkenhan that is required reading; HERE . An excerpt from the editorial reads as follows:
FF Mark Falkenhan
The word “hero” gets used too often to describe the most pedestrian of admirable behaviors, from the star quarterback who marches his team for a winning score to the kid who finds a missing wallet and turns it in. But exceptional bravery, special ability, exceptional deeds and noble qualities — those are what define an authentic hero, and Mr. Falkenhan lacked for none of them.
It was not by accidental circumstance or naiveté that he ended up on the third story of that Hillendale apartment complex in the midst of a fire, searching for missing residents. He knew the risks as well as anyone could. But his selfless desire to help others drove him forward into the flames.
That’s what made him exceptional. That’s why his legacy is important. That’s why the community is in his debt.
Incident Executive Summary
On Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a fire occurred in an apartment building located in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County, Maryland. This fire resulted in the line of duty death (LODD) of volunteer firefighter Mark G. Falkenhan, who was operating as the acting lieutenant on Squad 303 (for purposes of this report, Mark will be referred to as FF Falkenhan). Upon their arrival, FF Falkenhan and a second firefighter (FF # 2) from Squad 303 deployed to the upper floors of the apartment building to conduct search and rescue operations. Other fire department units were already involved with both firefighting operations and effecting rescues of trapped civilians.
During these operations, FF Falkenhan and FF # 2 became trapped in a third floor apartment by rapidly spreading fire and smoke conditions. FF # 2 was able to self-egress the building by diving headfirst down a ladder on the front (address side) of the building. FF Falkenhan declared a “MAYDAY” and implemented “MAYDAY” procedures, but was unable to escape or be rescued. FF Falkenhan was located and removed via a balcony on the third floor in the rear of the building. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued en route to the hospital. FF Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
Baltimore County Fire Department Standard Operating Procedures, Personnel #16, requires a team to be formed, a detailed investigation to be conducted and a report produced for any incident involving a line of duty life threatening injury or death. The team’s objective is to thoroughly analyze and document all the events leading to the injury or death and to make recommendations aimed at preventing similar occurrences in the future. At a minimum, a Division Chief, the Department’s Health and Safety Officer, a member from the Fire Investigation Division, an IAFF Local 1311 union representative, and the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association Vice President of Operations (when a volunteer member is involved) is required (see Acknowledgements section for actual team make-up).
The investigating team examined any and all data available, including independent analysis of the self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), turnout gear and autopsy report. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) produced a fire model to assist with evaluating fire behavior. Multiple site inspections were conducted. Extensive interviews were conducted by the team which also attended those conducted by investigators from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Photographic and audio transcripts were also thoroughly analyzed. A comprehensive timeline of events was developed. All information used to make decisions regarding recommendations was corroborated by at least two sources.
In fairness to those units involved in this incident, the investigating team had the advantage of examining this incident over the period of several months. Furthermore, given the size and nature of the event, and the fact that arriving crews were met with serious fire conditions and several residents trapped and in immediate danger, all personnel should be commended for their efforts for performing several rescues which prevented an even greater tragedy.
The team did not identify a particular primary reason for FF Falkenhan’s death.
What were identified were many secondary issues involving but not limited to crew integrity, incident command, strategy and tactics, and communications.
These issues are identified and discussed, and recommendations are made in appropriate sections of the report, as well as in a consolidated format in the Report Appendix.
Some of the issues identified in this report may require some type of change to current practices, policies, procedures or equipment. Most, however, do not. Specifically, the analysis and recommendations regarding Incident Command and Strategy and Tactics show that if current policies and procedures are adhered to, the opportunity for catastrophic problems may be reduced.
Mark Falkenhan was a well-respected and experienced firefighter.
He died performing his duties during a very complex incident with severe fire conditions and unique fire behavior coupled with the immediate need to perform multiple rescues of victims in imminent danger.
It would be easy if one particular failure of the system could be identified as the cause of this tragedy.
We could fix it and move on. Unfortunately it is not that simple.
No incident is “routine”. Mark’s death and this report reinforce that fact.
On Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 1816 hours, a call was received at the Baltimore County 911 Center from a female occupant at 30 Dowling Circle in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County. The caller stated that her stove was on fire and the fire was spreading to the surrounding cabinets. Fire box 11-09 was dispatched by Baltimore County Fire Dispatch (Dispatch) at 1818 hours consisting of four engine companies, two truck companies, a floodlight unit, and a battalion chief. All units responded on Talkgroup 1-2.
The location, approximately one mile from the first dispatched engine company, is a three story garden-type apartment complex, with brick construction and a composite shingle, truss supported roof. The fire building contained a total of six apartments divided by a common enclosed stairway in the center with one apartment on the left and one to the right of the stairs.
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta will be used to designate the clockwise geographic locations of the structure, beginning with Alpha on the address side of the building . Entry is gained through the front split-level stairwell by a common entrance door with individual doors leading to each apartment. Each apartment consists of two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and a living/dining area. There are sliding doors leading to either a wood joist deck/balcony on the second and third floor apartments, or a concrete patio on the first floor apartments. Utilities consist of gas service to the furnace and hot water heaters located in a utility closet in each apartment, with electric service to the remainder of the appliances, including the stove. Interior walls of the apartments are drywall over wood stud construction.
Floor coverings consist of carpeting over tile and concrete on the terrace/first floor. The second and third floor coverings consist of carpeting covering hardwood floors with a plywood subfloor. Interior doors are hollow wood construction. The door to the common hallway is of solid wood construction. The sliding doors to the deck/patio area are glass.
The development and construction of the Towson Crossing Apartments began in the early 1980’s. The buildings are rated in the existing building code for occupancy as Residential 2 (R2). The building code would describe the construction type as Type III. This construction type includes those buildings where the exterior walls are of non-combustible materials and the interior building elements are of any material permitted by the building code.
Building Construction and Features
The subject apartment building, 30 Dowling Circle, is a three story, middle of the group, apartment building constructed on a reinforced concrete slab. The Alpha and Charlie exterior walls are wood framed construction with brick veneer attached by brick ties. The Bravo and Delta exterior walls are block masonry construction and separate adjoining apartment buildings. The interior partition walls consist of wooden 2″x4″ wall studs covered with sheetrock. Paper faced insulation is found between the exterior walls, ceilings and party-walls that separate the apartments.
The apartment building contains six individual apartment units, which are approximately 1000 square feet in size per apartment unit. Two separate units are located on each floor and consist of two bedrooms, a living area, a dining area, a kitchen, and a bathroom. A utility closet is located in each of the living areas. The closet is located along the Alpha wall, and contains the water heater and furnace.
The building is not equipped with an automatic fire suppression system. Smoke detectors were noted; however, it is unknown if they were operational at the time of the fire. A fire extinguisher was noted on the landing between the second and third floor levels of the building.
From side Alpha the building has two and a half stories above grade while side Charlie is three stories above grade.
The first floor of the building is approximately five feet below ground level with a 20 foot set back from the apartment building parking lot. Side Charlie of the building is at ground level but slopes upward approximately 8 feet with a set-back of 110 feet from the rear alley.
The roof is constructed of a lightweight truss assembly consisting of 2″x6″ stringers connected by gusset plates. The truss assembly is covered with 5/8 inch plywood and asphalt shingles.
Floor and Ceiling
The floor assembly consists of 2×10 inch floor joists covered by plywood, wooden tongue and groove planking and finished with carpet. The joists run from Alpha to Charlie and are supported by the interior bearing walls. The kitchen floors in all of the units are covered with vinyl tile.
The ceilings throughout the building are sheetrock nailed to the floor joists of the apartment above with the exception of the third level in which the sheetrock is nailed to the roof joists.
The balconies are located on side Charlie of the building. The balconies located on levels two and three consist of 5/4″ deck boards over 2″x10″ wooden joists. The joists are cantilevered off of the floor/ceiling assemblies of levels one and two. The first floor balconies are made of concrete and are at ground level. All balconies are accessible through a single pane sliding glass door located in each apartment.
The first arriving engine, E-11, was staffed with a Captain, Lieutenant, Driver/Operator, and a Firefighter. Upon arrival at 1820 hours, the Captain gave a brief initial report describing a three story garden apartment with smoke showing from side Alpha: “The Captain of E-11 will have Command and we are initiating an aggressive interior attack with a 1 ¾” hand line”. Command also instructed the second due engine to bring him a supply line from the hydrant.
A female resident (victim # 1) appeared in a third floor apartment window, Alpha/Bravo side (Apt. B-1), yelled for assistance, and threatened to jump. Smoke or fire was visible from any of the third floor windows. At 1823 hours, Command advised Dispatch that he had a rescue and that he was establishing Limited Command. Fire Dispatch was in the process of upgrading the response profile to an apartment fire with rescue when the responding Battalion Chief requested that the fire box be upgraded to a fire rescue box. While the Firefighter and Lieutenant prepared for entry into the building, the Captain and Driver/Operator extended a ladder to the 3rd floor apartment window and rescued the resident. The first attempt by the Firefighter and Lieutenant to make entry into the side Alpha entrance was unsuccessful due to the extreme heat and smoke conditions.
Initial Arrival Conditions
The second due engine, E-10, arrived at 1823 with staffing of a Captain, Lieutenant, Driver/Operator, and a Firefighter. At 1823, E-10’s crew brought a 4″ supply line to E-11 from the hydrant at Deanwood Rd. and Dowling Circle and assisted the first-in crew with fire attack.
The Captain from E-10 conferred with Command and was instructed to advance a second 1 ¾” hand line.
The window to the first floor right apartment (Apt. T-2) was removed, and the second 1 ¾” line was advanced to the building by the crew of E-10.
Fire attack was initiated through the removed window. At 1827, Command requested a second alarm.
At this time, heat and smoke conditions just inside the front door improved enough to allow the Firefighter and Lieutenant from E-11 to make entry through the front door and into the stairwell. There they encountered heavy, thick black
smoke and high heat conditions coming up the stairs from the terrace level apartment. The Lieutenant reported that the doorway to the first floor apartment was orange with fire and he had to fight his way through heavy heat and smoke conditions to attack the fire in the first floor right apartment (Apt. T-2). Entry was made approximately 3 feet into the doorway when the Firefighter’s low air alarm began to sound, and he exited the building. A member from E-10’s crew replaced the Firefighter from E-11 on the hose line.
At the same time, the Captain from E-11 proceeded to the rear of the structure to complete his initial 360 degree size up. He noted that there was fire emanating from the open sliding doors on the first floor Charlie/Delta apartment (Apt. T-2), extending to the balcony above. E-1, staffed by a Captain, Driver/Operator, and two Firefighters arrived and completed the hookup of the supply line that had been laid to the hydrant by E-10. The rest of Engine 1’s crew grabbed tools and an extension ladder and reported to the Charlie side of the building.
Personnel stated that at this point fire conditions seemed to improve, suggesting that crews were making progress extinguishing the fire. (The first arriving attack crew reported that they were able to see apparatus lights through the sliding doors on Charlie side, which indicated to them that smoke and fire conditions were improving.)
Truck 1, a tiller unit staffed by a Lieutenant, two Driver/Operators, and a Firefighter, arrived on side Alpha and immediately began search and rescue operations. Windows on the second floor Alpha/Delta side apartment (Apt. A-2) were vented and ladders were thrown to gain access. T-8 arrived at the alley on side Charlie. E-1 extended a ground ladder to the third floor balcony on the Charlie/Bravo side of the structure (Apt. B-1), and made access to the apartment to search for additional victims.
They noted fire venting from the first floor Charlie/Delta apartment (Apt. T-2) out of the sliding glass doors progressing upwards towards the balcony on the second floor. Upon entering the apartment, they conducted a primary search and noted minimal heat with light smoke conditions.
The crew accessed the hallway via the apartment entry door and noticed an increase in the temperature and the amount of smoke.
They immediately closed the door and exited the apartment via the ground ladder.
Upon exiting the apartment, E-1’s crew observed E-292 on the scene with a hand line extending into the apartment of origin, (first floor, Charlie/Delta side, Apt. T-2). The officer on E-1 noted white smoke coming from the unit.
Having already laid a supply line from the intersection of the alley and Deanwood Road, E-292’s crew extended a 1 ¾” hand line into the apartment of origin. Moderate fire conditions with zero visibility were encountered, and they reported feeling a great deal of heat on their knees as they crawled through the apartment.
The Lieutenant and the Firefighter from Truck-1 entered Apartment A-2 via a second floor bedroom window (Alpha/Delta side) and began a search for additional victims. As they traversed the living room area they found an unconscious male resident (victim #2). At 1836 hours, the Lieutenant notified Command via an urgent transmission that a victim had been located and they needed assistance with evacuation. The Lieutenant and Firefighter noted a small fire in the rear corner near the victim as they exited the room. The crew returned to the bedroom from which they had entered and closed the door behind them. Victim #2 was then evacuated from the apartment via a ground ladder through the bedroom window, and transferred to EMS personnel on side Alpha.
Preflashover conditions Alpha Side 18:37 hours
At 1831 hours, Squad 303, a unit staffed by a Driver/Operator, Firefighter Falkenhan (acting Officer in Charge), and 3 other Firefighters had arrived at the Alpha side of the building. Firefighter Falkenhan and two crew members grabbed their tools and immediately entered the building. One Firefighter (Firefighter #1) proceeded to the terrace floor apartment to assist crews with fire attack. Firefighter Falkenhan and the other Firefighter (Firefighter #2) proceeded to the second floor
Bravo side apartment (Apt. A-1) to search for additional victims. They forced the door to the second floor apartment and conducted their search. Finding no one, they reported to Command that they had encountered high heat in the apartment and at 1838 hours, inquired as to which apartment victim #2 had been found. Firefighter Falkenhan advised Command that he and his fellow Firefighter were proceeding to the third floor to continue their search.
At 1840 hours, Battalion Chief 11 (BC-11) arrived on the scene, performed a face-to-face pass on with the Captain on Engine 11, and assumed Command. BC-11 initially observed limited smoke conditions, indicating to him that crews had made progress in extinguishing the fire.
Meanwhile, the Lieutenant and Firefighter from T-8 entered the second floor apartment that S-303 had just searched (Apt. A-1, second floor, Bravo side). They proceeded through the apartment and went across the hallway to Apartment A-2 where Truck-1 had just made their rescue (second floor, Delta side).
The Lieutenant noted smoky conditions, and saw that the sliding doors to the rear of the apartment were open, and saw a small fire in the rear of the apartment to the left of the open doors. On their way back to their point of entry, T-8’s crew discovered an unconscious female victim (victim #3). At 1837 hours, T-8 attempted to reach Command via radio and was covered by inaudible radio traffic. Dispatch was able to receive the radio transmission from T-8, and advised Command that another victim had been located on the second floor.
At this point, the crew from S-303 had completed their search of the third floor Bravo side apartment (Apt. B-1).
Firefighter Falkenhan and Firefighter #2 were able to look out of the sliding doors on side Charlie down to the first floor apartment, Apt. T-2 (Charlie/Delta side) and could see fire.
Smoke conditions on the third floor were light enough to walk upright in a somewhat crouched position.
The crew returned to the hallway, forced open the door to the third floor Charlie/Delta side apartment, Apt. B-2, and made entry.
Firefighter #2 walked down the hallway to the bedroom on the right while Firefighter Falkenhan searched to the left. After checking the bedroom, Firefighter #2 stated that he heard something behind him and turned to see fire in the hallway.
As the crew from S-303 searched the third floor Delta side apartment (Apt. B-2), The Lieutenant and Firefighter from T-8 were attempting to remove victim #3 from the second floor Delta side apartment (Apt. A-2). As they prepared to move their patient, fire conditions changed suddenly.
The Lieutenant from T-8 observed fire, “…rolling over our heads and out of the apartment door.” An immediate increase in heat conditions was noted. Upon exiting the apartment, T-8’s crew described a “tunnel of fire” coming out of the apartment and into the hallway. At 1841 hours, a radio transmission was made by an unknown source that heavy fire was observed in the hallway through a window at the stairwell landing.
At the same time, (1841) one minute after his arrival, Battalion Chief-11 (Command) noted heavy black smoke coming from the building and observed a “flash” through a second floor window. Command immediately ordered an evacuation of the building. Dispatch sounded the evacuation tones over the radio, and repeated the order to evacuate. Engines on the scene sounded their air horns to indicate that the order to evacuate had been given.
Firefighter #2 from S-303 reported hearing the engines on the fire ground sound their air horns, indicating to him that he needed to leave the building. Smoke conditions in the apartment had changed to thick black smoke, and the fire intensified, blocking his means of egress from the bedroom.
Realizing that he needed to get out of the apartment quickly, Firefighter#2 crawled to a window on the Alpha side of the bedroom and signaled Firefighters below with his hand light to move a ladder to the window. Crews immediately moved the ladder, and at 1841, Firefighter#2 dove headfirst out of the window and down the ladder, where he was assisted by crews working on the exterior of the building.
At 1841, Firefighter Falkenhan declared, “Emergency” on his radio, and repeated the same seven seconds later.
Command immediately queried S-303 for his location and the transmission “I’m down to the floor, heavy fire” was heard. At 1842 hours, Dispatch sounded emergency tones and restricted the Talkgroup to communications only between S-303 and Command.
Seconds later Firefighter Falkenhan again keyed up his portable radio and advised “…trapped on the 3rd floor, heavy fire on the Alpha/Bravo.”
Fourteen seconds later he advised “I hear crew members, the third, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY.”
Command notified Dispatch, “We have a MAYDAY” and was interrupted by a transmission from Firefighter Falkenhan, “urgent.”
Command made several attempts to contact Falkenhan to ascertain his location and determine resources needed (Location Unit Name Assignment Resources) for rescue.
Upon hearing the MAYDAY, crews on side Charlie threw multiple ladders to the third floor balcony to assist with rescue.
Heavy heat, smoke, and fire conditions made rescue difficult, but Firefighter Falkenhan was located and removed from the apartment via the balcony to the extended aerial ladder from T-8. He was unconscious and unresponsive at this time. Resuscitative efforts began immediately upon removal from the balcony, and continued enroute to the hospital. Firefighter Falkenhan succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.
Consolidated List of Recommendations
1. Company officers shall ensure that crew integrity is maintained at all times by all personnel operating in an IDLH environment. 2. No personnel shall operate in an IDLH environment without a portable radio.
1. If possible, the firefighter should activate his/her Emergency button on the portable radio. 2. Once personnel have called a MAYDAY and provided the information needed (LUNAR), they will activate their PASS Device manually and intermittently.
1. Tactical Operations Manual 07 allows Incident Commanders the flexibility to adapt to fast-moving and complex incidents. When re-assuming command, the IC must be identified (verbally through Fire Dispatch) to allow units involved and responding to know who is in command.
2. Incident Commanders must understand that an early initial 360° would give the IC the information needed to develop effective strategy and tactics for incident mitigation.
3. Additional arriving units must give the IC an updated report on fire conditions when noticeably different than those announced in the Brief Initial Report.
4. Arriving units should prompt the IC to assign them supervision of a division when conditions warrant such action.
5. The IC must ensure that all division and group supervisors are properly deployed and verbalize same on the radio for Dispatch and units involved on the incident.
6. Reinforce the importance of the ICS and its functional components for all officers.
7. Ensure a manageable span-of-control is maintained throughout the incident.
8. Evaluate the efficiency of command and control as incidents escalate.
9. A Rapid Intervention Team is a vitally important part of the ICS and its assignment should not be overlooked.
Strategy and Tactics
1. Use caution when passing a hydrant that is in your direction of travel and close to the fire building in an attempt to get a closer one.
2. Consider having the initial backup line proceeding into the same point of entry as the initial crew operating in the IDLH environment. Doing this allows for the line to also aid in protecting the common stairwell (i.e. fire extension/protection for egress). Deploy a third line if needed into another point of access.
3. Consider dialing nozzles up to higher gallons per minute for large structures such as apartment buildings.
4. Consider utilizing a 2-1/2″ attack line for fire attack.
5. The current SOP should be modified to state that when the initial Incident Commander feels that the incident has stabilized to a point where there is no longer a need for him/her to be directly involved with incident operations, a notification through Dispatch shall be made to inform crews on and en route to the scene.
6. The Department should develop training to ensure that Incident Commanders relay changes in modes of operations.
7. Consider attacking fires from other sides of the structure that are on grade.
8. Consider the use of “door control” for protection during search and rescue and exposure protection
9. When deviations to initial orders are made, they must be communicated to Command.
10. IC should consider setting up a division supervisor with the first arriving officer to balance his/her span-of-control early into the incident.
11. Command should initiate group and division supervisors early into an incident and use them to reduce his/her span-of-control. Communicate Conditions, Actions, Needs (CAN) reports early and often.
12. When units are the initial crews deployed to a geographic location, consideration should be given to “prompt” Command to make them a division supervisor (in the absence of direction from Command).
13. Units should request resources, or supply their own as necessary to support the operations that they are undertaking.
14. When given a division assignment, “step back” to take in the overall picture and communicate progress reports to Command.
15. Be clear and concise when setting up division assignments.
16. Utilize the division supervisors for incident operations once assigned.
17. Training on effective use of interior doors to control fire spread should be promoted throughout the department.
18. Consider removing common stairwell windows earlier in fire ground operations when appropriate.
19. While performing operations above the fire, notify Command of changing conditions and immediately request resources to support your function.
20. Set up a command post as early as possible to aid in deploying and accounting for resources as they arrive on the fire ground.
21. Notify Command when entering an IDLH.
22. Request resources to support functions.
23. Set up divisions and groups early to aid in managing the strategic priorities.
24. Be clear in communicating strategy and tactics to companies involved in operations.
25. Command should make it a priority to deploy attack lines on all floors to support the operations of crews working in the area.
1. A rubberized cover for the radio speaker microphone should be tested by communications and field personnel. This device will cover the push-to-talk (PTT) button and will increase the pressure required for activation. If proved effective, this cover will decrease the likelihood of an accidental activation of the PTT button during vigorous fire ground activity.
2. Continuing study should occur to evaluate methods to control inadvertent radio interference from all units (on the scene, responding, or monitoring) during incident operations. Review PTT logs to identify sources of communications interference.
3. As a result of the investigation, PTT log files will now be saved for 25 days.
4. Fire Communications and field personnel will develop and distribute a mandatory training program outlining proper radio procedures including the importance of radio discipline, MAYDAY procedures, and the procedure for establishing a Command restricted talk group during critical operations.
5. All personnel engaged in operations in an environment immediately dangerous to life and health shall carry a portable radio.
6. The aforementioned mandatory training program shall stress the importance of giving regular updates to Command regarding the extent and location of the fire and other pertinent information.
An arson fire in a vacant home in North Las Vegas (NV) was intention set and devised in a manner to harm firefighters according to Authorities.
Upon arrival of fire companies, the second floor was fully involved with heavy smoke showing from outside the building.
North Las Vegas Firefighters and Las Vegas Fire and Rescue worked together to control the flames in the vacant two story home.
It took seven units and approximately 27 firefighters to contain the fire.
There was no extension of the fire to surrounding homes, it was contained in 15 minutes.
There aren’t specific details released on why authorities believe this fire was set to harm firefighters, but the fire official discussing the incident clearly expressed his concerns of what confronted operating companies at this alarm.
Residential Structure Built in 1997
The two story residential structure was of Type V, wood frame construction, built in 1997 consisting of 1,998 Square feet of space with three (3) beadrooms, seven total rooms and an attached garage.
It’s especially important for companies and company officers to remain highly vigilant upon entering and conducting interior operations for any signs or indications that conditions may not be as characteristic and expected for fires in similar occupancies or under prevailing conditions.
We plan to develop and prepare some safety awareness insights for operations in a few days. We’ll also continue to monitor information that may be forthcoming with further details as to what may have been encountered by firefighters.
A fire in single family residential occupancy in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park section on May 29th produced these dramatic occurrences: Serious injury to a woman and her grandchild, a firefighter being trapped, and good Samaritans lending a hand.
About 12:30 a.m., Chicago fire officials and police responded to a fire in a one-and-a-half story single family home in the 4200 block of West Hadden Avenue on the West Side, according to police and fire officials. A 2-11 Alarm and EMS Plan 1 were called for the fire, said Fire Media Affairs spokesman Chief Joe Roccasalva. The fire was located in a 1 1/2 story wood frame bungalow (SFR) dwelling. According to published reports, the firefighter fell through a burning stairwell when it collapsed and was briefly trapped. He was quickly located and extricated with minor injuries following the mayday alert
4246 West Hadden Ave
Chicago Sun-Times, HERE and Breaking News Report, HERE and ABC News7 TV, HERE
Typical Circa Stairway Construction
Don’t forget to check out the 2011 Safety and Survival Week focus on;
2011 Focus: Surviving the Fire Ground – Fire Fighter, Fire Officer & Command Preparedness, HERE
N.J. Firefighter bailout from Second-Story Window as a result of room fashover
An Asbury Park (NJ) firefighter was seriously burned while fighting an apartment fire in the seaside community. 41-year-old firefighter Jason Fazio was in listed in critical condition at St. Barnabas Burn Center in Livingston following Monday’s afternoon fire.
Officials indicated that Firefighter Fazio was injured when he went into the apartment above a row of stores on Main Street and the fire suddenly flashed over.
Fire Chief Kevin Keddy said Fazio jumped out the second-story window to save himself and suffered broken bones in addition to burns.
No one was home when the fire broke out at midmorning Monday. An adjacent apartment and a first-floor restaurant also were damaged.
Fazio’s 41st birthday was Monday, a day the 17-year veteran was acting captain of the truck company and went into the building at 400 Main St., which contains 12 apartments upstairs and stores on the street level at the corner of Main Street and Bangs Avenue.
The fire call came in at 10:13 a.m. from a merchant who reported smoke and fire inthe second-floor apartment listed as 418 Main, said Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw Jr., whose office along with the county Fire Marshal’s Office and state Division of Fire Safety investigated the blaze.
By Monday night, Warshaw reported the fire had been determined to be accidental and originated in the front bedroom of the second-floor apartment. He said fireinvestigators were unable to rule out a failure in an electrical cord, supplying either a lamp or a space heater, that may have ignited paper, clothing or carpet in the area.
Structural Collapse indicators require sound situational awareness of overall operational profiles, building conditions and operational task assignments. Wood Frame structures are impacted most significantly due to exposure and material degradation from direct flame impingement or failure mechanisims of crucial assembly connections or construction systems.
Frequent and Timely observations of structural conditions, impact of fire involvement and fire suppression operations conducted by response companies must be conducted. Establish appropriate collapse zones around the structural perimeter, utilize safety officers and practice effective risk assessment, situational awareness and incident monitoring to ensure operational safety. Collapse indications are sometimes VERY obvious….
Without understanding the building-occupancy relationships and integrating; construction, occupancies, fire dynamics and fire behavior, risk, analysis, the art and science of firefighting, safety conscious work environment concepts and effective and well-informed incident command management, company level supervision and task level competencies…You are derelict and negligent and "not "everyone may be going home".
Our current generation of buildings, construction and occupancies are not as predictable as past conventional construction; risk assessment, strategies and tactics must change to address these new rules of structural fire engagement. There is a need to gain the building construction knowledge and insights and to change and adjust operating profiles in order to safe guard companies, personnel and team compositions. It's all about understanding the building-occupancy relationships and the art and science of firefighting, Building Knowledge = Firefighter Safety (Bk=F2S)
The Newest radio show on FireFighter Netcast.com at Blogtalk Radio… Taking it to the Streets with Christopher Naum. On the Air Monthly on Firefighter Netcast.com. A Buildingsonfire.com Series and Firefighter Netcast.com Production. Advancing Firefighter Safety and Operational Integrity for the Fire Service through provocative insights and dynamic discussions dedicated to the Art and Science of Firefighting and the Traditions of the Fire Service.